The Maryland State Board of Elections reportedly will replace its touch-screen voting system with a ballot card that is hand-marked by the voter in 2016. This is a regressive step that is not in the interest of Maryland's citizens.

Hand-marking of ballots by voters allows the issue of the "intent of the voter" to be raised in close elections. Some marks will be too light to be read correctly, some smudges will be misread and some voters will not follow instructions in properly marking their ballots so they can be correctly read.

Post-election lawsuits about the winners are costly, resulting in delayed results and lower public confidence in the fairness of the process.

Touch-screen machines should be retained as the means for voters to submit their choices. The machines can be designed to print out a hard-copy ballot with the choices marked by machine. After review of the machine-marked ballot and approval by the voter, the ballot can be cast and tallied by machine. The uniform markings made by machines do not permit the issue of "intent of the voter" to be raised.

The General Assembly, in its 2014 session, should reject hand-marked ballots and ensure that voters can review and confidently cast a ballot that has uniformly made marks. Tallying machines will easily read ballots with uniform marks; the machines can be deliberately designed for them.

Roy G. Saltman, Columbia

The writer is a retired computer scientist and author of "The History and Politics of Voting Technology."

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